Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Bachelor of Social Work Honours


Faculty of Regional Professional Studies

First Supervisor

Dr Pauline Meemeduma


With the field of sex offender treatment is in its infancy, there is a tack of clarity concerning nearly all aspects of offending behaviour, from theoretical frameworks that explain why the offending occurs, to the effectiveness of different treatment techniques. This study sought to gain insight into workers' understandings of the phenomenon of child sexual offending, and how these understandings informed their responses to child sex offender treatment. Locating the 'sense making' of workers within the context of a four dimensional systematic integration model; personal, professional, organisational and social influences and impacts were also explored. Currently practicing with child sex offenders, participants came from both statutory and non-statutory organisations. Based on a case study methodology, semi structured interviews were utilised to identify, acknowledge and validate the experiences of these workers, who seemed to previously have been overlooked within the literature. Research findings revealed for the workers in the study 'practice' with child sexual offenders does not happen in isolation. The practice of the worker is significantly impacted by the organisational and professional context of the work, by social attitudes towards child sex offenders and by personal feelings and reactions of the worker towards child sex offenders. The results importantly also indicate the often little recognised area of the impact of the work environment on the personal lives of the workers. The results also demonstrated a clear need for further support, training and professional development for workers in this area. The results raise issues in relation to the type and duration of practice expertise required by workers entering this area of practice. This sharing of these 'sense making' experiences, understandings and responses provided a valuable and enlightening contribution to the emerging body of knowledge on child sex offenders, child sex offender treatment, and more importantly, those workers who practice at the coalface.

Included in

Social Work Commons